A friend of mine recently recounted the story of her battle with breast cancer, and how at one of her lowest, darkest moments, she was comforted by the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism: “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” She went on to say “In an instant, these words that I had memorized as a 10-year-old were filled with new meaning. I realized that the question isn’t ‘What is your only safety in life and in death?’ but ‘What is your only comfort?’”
She noted that the Catechism gets it right – to be human is to need comfort.
As I heard this recollection from my friend, I knew exactly what she was saying. I’ve relied on the Heidelberg Catechism and specifically that first question to get through some pretty dark valleys. I’m thankful I studied the Catechism as a youth. It forever changes who I am and how I worship.
But what about my children? They don’t know the Catechism like I do. Does that matter? I think it does.
I wonder what my children will do, and how they will pull closer to God when they walk through the valley of the shadow of death or any other lousy valleys in life. Of course they should rely on the Bible, which must be the focus of our learning. And they will rely on brothers and sisters in Christ. All that’s true, but the Heidelberg Catechism is an integral element of my faith formation and I will forever be thankful that it helps me in an understanding of the Reformed faith.
So what do I do about that? Who is responsible to teach my children about the Heidelberg Catechism? Is it my wife and I? Is it youth group? Is it education at church? Is it a Christian school (for those who attend a Christian school)?
I attend a church that has plenty of seekers and a growing number of new Christians. These folks don’t know what it means to be Reformed and they sure don’t know the Heidelberg Catechism. Our church doesn’t preach from the Catechism each week. Maybe your does. Is this part of the Catechism training for our children?
So I have plenty of questions but very few answers. Anyone care to offer some suggestions?